The question Allies for Sexual Assault (ASAP) and Common Ground ventured to clarify Tuesday night was, “Who can sexually assault whom?”
It was quickly determined during the forum on queer sexual assault prevention that sexual assault can happen to anyone and in many different contexts. Senior Michael Martinez, Common Ground’s Minister of Propaganda, rattled off the all-encompassing sexual orientation acronym GLBTQQAAIPP and he and junior Tristan Jones, along with Common Ground, explained how someone of any orientation could be assaulted and how those situations can be avoided.
“A lot of times you hear things about men assaulting women, and you don’t hear a lot of anything else,” Martinez said. “Women can assault men and women can assault other women.”
“Non-gender normative-identified individuals can assault non-gender normative-identified individuals,” Jones continued.
Director of Multicultural Student Advisement Tianna Cervantez stressed that point, saying that “It’s a good thing to keep in mind that the definition of assault doesn’t change dependent upon who the perpetrator or who the victim is. Gender does not specify assault. The definition is assault is assault is assault.”
Issues of verbal assault were also addressed, as Martinez explained that one must bear the responsibility of knowing how someone else identifies so as not to offend that person.
“A lot of us here at Knox identify as queers, and we’re cool with that word, but there are some people who don’t like to be called queer and think it’s offensive,” Martinez said. “And if they think that’s offensive, you can’t call them that, even if your other queer friends are okay with it.”
The forum was not restricted to issues of assault, though. Jones and Martinez explained how queer relationships, friendships and acquaintanceships can be maintained in a healthy manner.
“You have to respect people’s individuality,” Martinez said. “There are millions upon millions of ways to identify about different things, whether it’s about your sex, gender, sexual orientation or anything else. So it’s really important to just be aware of that, to not make assumptions and to just ask people.”
Martinez also explained avenues for reporting and dealing with assault if it occurs. He mentioned the Silent Witness anonymous reporting system which can be found online and that all RAs were given Safe Space training at the beginning of the year.
“Don’t ever think that you have to suffer in silence or that you have to suffer with a friend in silence,” Cervantez said, after explaining some of the avenues for reporting assault. She said the only completely confidential place on campus is the Counseling Center, and all other offices are obligated by federal law to report incidents.
Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf said he is confident that Campus Safety officers are equipped to handle issues with queer relationships, as many of his officers have been certified to deal with sexual assault.